Journalists İsmail Eskin and Çağdaş Kaplan from the Dicle News Agency (DİHA) were attacked by a large group of people when they were covering a demonstration in Küçükçekmece, a district on the European side of Istanbul on Sunday (18 July). Eskin and Kaplan were taken to hospital. DİHA announced that the incident was directed by a plainclothes police officer.
The journalists were in the Kanarya quarter of Küçükçekmece to gather information about a protest march against increased police operations against the Provincial Organization of the pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP) and against alleged desecration of bodies of members of the militant Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) who got killed in armed conflicts.
As reported by DİHA, a group of demonstrators threw a Molotov cocktail and set an office on fire. At the same time, a person who supposedly was a plainclothes police officer, pointed to the journalist and told the others that they had organized the use of Molotov cocktails. Thereupon, a large group of demonstrators attacked Eskin and Kaplan, DİHA announced.
DİHA: The attack was provoked by the police and left to the demonstrators
The attackers tried to throw Kaplan into the burning office. When Eskin tried to stop them, he was beaten with a rod. It was also reported that the attackers grabbed one of the journalists' cameras.
According to the news agency, the police as the responsible party to take security measures remained passive spectators of the assault. The journalists eventually managed to escape. Eskin suffered two cracks in his head and a broken arm, Kaplan was beaten at various parts of his body.
Eskin and Kaplan went to the Taksim First Aid Hospital and underwent medical treatment. Eskin had a brain tomography taken in the Brain Surgery Emergency Service; Kaplan was treated in the emergency room.
Police intervention against the press in Midyat
On Satruday (17 July), journalist Mehmet Halis İş from the Doğan News Agency (DHA) was exposed to police violence when he covered a protest action of BDP members who also demonstrated against alleged desecration of bodies of PKK members who got killed in armed conflicts.
Journalist İş, also editor-in-chief of the weekly local Midyat Habur newspaper, was following the demonstration in Midyat in the south-eastern province of Mardin. About 300 people had gathered in a park. İş followed the arrest of two elderly women carrying photographs of PKK members and of another two people who supposedly shouted illegal slogans.
Police intervened against shooting footage
Members of the BDP initiated a sit-down protest in front of the District Police Directorate for the release of the four arrested people.
While taking pictures of the sit-down protest, a plainclothes police officer of the Police Directorate allegedly resorted to violence against İş. Footage published on the website of the local newspaper shows a person in plain clothes harshly approaching the journalists and scolding, "Why are you recording this?"
Journalist İş told bianet, "We were all shooting footage. They tried to seize my camera and even to break it. They insulted us. Members of the BDP intervened. I might take legal steps".
"Our right to report freely is not guaranteed"
In a written statement, İş stated, "This physical intervention and the threats show once more that legal amendments are not very important. As long as the violence in the people's mind is not being eliminated, the right to make news and to obtain information based on human rights is not guaranteed".
"We know that a free press means a free society. A society without press freedom is not a democratic and liberal society. According to the ECHR [European Court of Human Rights], a free press plays a vital role in the functioning of democracies. It is the duty of the press to inform the people on all topics of public interest", İş declared.